Preserving Montana's Catholic Heritage : Helena Diocesan Structures and Historic Preservation
Object ID:
2013.003.015
Description:
St. Joseph's Catholic Church at D'Aste is located between Charlo and Moiese, Montana and approximately eight miles northwest of St. Ignatius. The wood frame church, built in 1916, stands by itself along the Dublin Gulch graveled county road.

In 1910 the U.S. Congress opened the Flathead Indian Reservation to homesteading. Many Irish Catholics from Butte primarily took homesteads in the area. A Jesuit priest from St. Ignatius Mission by 1911 was offering mass in the upstairs "community hall" of the Tom Quinn house.

Then Fr. William O'Maley, the first pastor of neighboring Ronan directed the construction of St. Joseph's Church on two lots in D'Aste. In one month he and local volunteers (Catholic and Protestant) under the direction of carpenter supervisor, Tom McDonald, erected the structure from lumber purchased at cost from Dixon.

Bishop Carroll dedicated the church to St. Joseph in May 1916. In 1917 the NP Railroad donated a brass bell from a steam engine. In 1928 early settlers donated the Stations of the Cross in memory of their loved ones.

The onset of drought, the Great Depression, increased use of the automobile combined with water shortages resulted in the town being moved to Charlo. When the school at D'Aste closed in 1939, St. Joseph Church became the only building in town. The church celebrated its golden anniversary in September 1966 with Bishop Hunthausen officiating. A decision was made to relocate church services to Charlo and in April 1978 Father Fenlon conducted the final mass at St. Joseph's Church.

Gradually the building deteriorated; windows were broken, cattle strayed into the building. Hoping to preserve the church, the Gallagher family purchased the church from the Ronan parish in 1985. The Bishop challenged their ownership and negotiated a settlement by transferring ownership to the D'Aste Woman's Service Group, Inc. in 1998. The women replaced the front doors, found the right sized windows, gave the building a fresh coat of yellow paint. It is now a "community center" and cannot, under the terms of the transfer, be used again as a church.

It was placed on the Register for National Historic Places in 1999. St. Joseph is an unusual Montana example of church architecture in the Craftsman Style. The only other example of this style in Montana is the Catholic Church in Judith Gap.

Craftsman Style details: 1) massive, decorative braces in the front gable
2) stickwork and stucco
3) exposed rafter tails
4) half—timbering
5) alternating width of the clapboard siding
6) Egyptian—influenced window trim on the rear wing.

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St. Joseph's Church, D'Aste, MTSt. Joseph's Church, D'Aste, MT